Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 has been filed seeking a declaration that Rule 10(1) and Rule 10(4)(i) of the Search Committee (Constitution, Terms and Conditions of Appointment of Members and the Manner of Selection of Panel of Names for Appointment of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal) Rules, 2014 (hereinafter referred to as the “Search Committee Rules”) framed under the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) are ultra vires and for a further direction to restrain the initiation of any process of selection for appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal under the provisions of the aforesaid Search Committee Rules.= “The pathology of our public law, with its class slant, is that an unmincing ombudsman or sentinel on the qui vive with power to act against those in power, now or before, and offering legal access to the informed citizen to complain with immunity does not exist; despite all the bruited umbrage of political performers against peculations and perversions by higher echelons. Law is what law does, not what law says; and the moral gap between word and deed menaces people’s faith in life and law. The tragedy, then, is that democracy becomes a casualty.” = For the aforesaid reasons, the writ petitions and the transferred cases shall stand allowed as indicated above.

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.245 OF 2014

COMMON CAUSE : A REGISTERED SOCIETY    …PETITIONER

VERSUS

UNION OF INDIA                           …RESPONDENT

WITH

TRANSFERRED CASE(C)        OF 2017

(Arising out of  TRANSFER PETITION (C) NO.1264/2014

WRIT PETITION(C) NO.673 OF 2015

TRANSFERRED CASE(C) NO.109 OF 2015

J U D G M E N T

RANJAN GOGOI, J.

1.          Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 has been  filed  seeking  a

declaration that Rule 10(1)  and  Rule  10(4)(i)  of  the  Search  Committee

(Constitution, Terms and  Conditions  of  Appointment  of  Members  and  the

Manner of Selection of Panel of Names for  Appointment  of  Chairperson  and

Members of Lokpal) Rules, 2014  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  “Search

Committee  Rules”)  framed  under  the  provisions  of      the  Lokpal  and

Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) are ultra  vires

and for a further direction to restrain the initiation  of  any  process  of

selection for appointment of Chairperson and Members  of  the  Lokpal  under

the provisions of the aforesaid Search Committee Rules.

2.          There is no manner of doubt that the aforesaid grievance of  the

writ petitioner has been taken care of by the Search  Committee  (Amendment)

Rules, 2014 which has deleted the following words in sub-rule  (1)  of  Rule

10:

“from amongst the  list  of  persons  provided  by  the  Central

Government in the Department of Personnel and Training”

Sub-rule (4) of Rule 10 of the Search Committee Rules  has  also  been

since deleted.

3.          Notwithstanding the above, it is urged on  behalf  of  the  writ

petitioner that the provisions of the Act are yet to be implemented and  the

Selection  Committee/Search  Committee  under  the  Act  are   yet   to   be

constituted so as to further the appointment of the Chairperson and  Members

of the Lokpal.

4.          As in the connected case  i.e.  Writ  Petition  No.673  of  2015

filed by Youth for Equality the prayers made  are  precisely  to  the  above

effect, we have permitted the learned counsel for  the  writ  petitioner  in

Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 to address the Court on  the  aforesaid

issue also.

5.          The reliefs sought in Transferred Case No.109  of  2015  and  in

Transferred Case arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil)  No.1264  of  2014

are same and similar to those made in Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of  2014.

6.          Shri Shanti Bhushan, learned Senior Counsel,  who  has  advanced

the lead arguments, has submitted that the Act had been brought  into  force

on 16th January, 2014 by a notification issued in the  Official  Gazette  by

the Government of India.  Despite efflux  of  a  long  period  of  time  the

provisions of the Act have not been implemented.  It is argued  that  though

the version of the official respondents is that certain  provisions  of  the

Act need to be  altered  to  make  the  provisions  thereof  workable  in  a

meaningful manner, the  very  fact  that  the  Amendment  Bill  [Lokpal  and

Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014] has been  gathering

dust from the date of its introduction in  the  Parliament  (18th  December,

2014) would sufficiently demonstrate the lack of executive/legislative  will

to give effect to a salutary enactment en-grafting a vital   requirement  of

democratic functioning of the  Government,  namely,  accountability  of  the

political executive and those in high echelons  of  public  office,   to  an

independent body i.e. Lokpal.  Shri  Shanti  Bhushan  has  also  urged  that

incongruities, inconsistencies and inadequacies in the Act as  perceived  by

the respondents are primarily with regard to the  absence  of  a  Leader  of

Opposition in the present House of People/Lok  Sabha  (hereinafter  referred

to as “LOP”) who is also to act as  a  Member  of  the  Selection  Committee

under Section 4 of the Act. This, according to Shri Bhushan, is  a  pretence

and/or sham inasmuch as by Section  2  of  the  Salary  and   Allowances  of

Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 (hereinafter  referred  to  as

“the 1977 Act”) the term ‘Leader of the Opposition” is defined  to  mean  as

under:

“2.   Definition.- In this Act, “Leader of the  Opposition”,  in

relation to either House of Parliament, means that member of the

Council of States or the House of the People, as  the  case  may

be, who is, for the time being, the Leader in that House of  the

Party in  opposition  to  the  Government  having  the  greatest

numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman of the

Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People,  as

the case may be.

Explanation.– Where there are two or more parties in opposition

to the Government, in the Council of States or in the  House  of

the People having the same numerical strength, the  Chairman  of

the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People,

as the case may be, shall, having regard to the  status  of  the

parties, recognise any one of the Leaders of such parties as the

Leader of the Opposition for the purposes of  this  section  and

such recognition shall be final and conclusive.

Shri Bhushan submits that the  aforesaid  provision  could  have

been easily adopted by the Government of India to clarify the  situation  in

the event any ambiguity is felt.   Shri  Bhushan  has  specifically  pointed

out to the Court the provisions of Section 62 of the Act which  enables  the

Government of India to so act.  As  such  an  exercise  was  not  undertaken

within a period of two years as required, the time frame  therefor,  is  now

over.  Shri Bhushan has pointed out that for reasons which  are  not  known,

the respondents are not interested in implementing  the  provisions  of  the

Act.  Therefore, necessary directions should be  issued  by  the  Court  and

appropriate orders need to be passed.

7.          Supporting the arguments  made  by  Shri  Shanti  Bhushan,  Shri

Gopal Sankaranarayana, learned counsel for  the  writ  petitioners  in  Writ

Petition (Civil) No.673 of 2015 has drawn the attention of the Court to  the

relevant provisions of the other  statutes,  namely,  Right  to  Information

Act, 2005, Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003, etc. to  point  out  that

in all the aforesaid statutes it has been provided that in case there is  no

LOP available, it  is  the  Leader  of  the  Party  in  Opposition   to  the

Government, which has the greatest strength of Members, who is deemed to  be

the Leader of the Opposition.   It  is  also  pointed  out  by  the  learned

counsel  that  under  Section  4(2)  of  the  Act  the  appointment  of  the

Chairperson or a Member of  the  Lokpal  shall  not  be  invalid  merely  on

account of any vacancy in the Selection Committee.  It is, therefore,  urged

that even in the absence of the LOP it is open for the  Selection  Committee

to proceed with the constitution of the Search  Committee.   Same  would  be

the position with regard to the appointment of the  eminent  jurist  who  is

required to be appointed as a Member  of  the  Selection  Committee  by  the

other Members of the Selection Committee enumerated under   Section  4(1)(a)

to (d) of the Act.  The absence of the LOP, therefore, need not  detain  the

constitution of the Selection Committee and the discharge  of  functions  by

the Committee.

9.          It is further argued by the learned counsel that as  legislative

action is not forthcoming to give effect to the provisions of  the  Amending

Bill,  this  Court should read down the provisions  of  Section  4(1)(c)  of

the Act to understand that the LOP mentioned in the said provisions  of  the

Act means the leader of the single largest opposition party in either  House

of Parliament.  Reading down of the provisions of the statute, in the  above

manner, would be justified to give effect to the statute.  In  this  regard,

reliance  has  been  placed  on  the  following  observations  contained  in

paragraph 26 and 46 of the decision of this Court in Vipulbhai M.  Choudhary

vs. Gujarat Coop. Milk Mktg. Federation Ltd.[1] which are extracted below:

“26.       Where the Constitution  has  conceived  a  particular

structure on certain institutions, the  legislative  bodies  are

bound  to  mould   the   statutes   accordingly.   Despite   the

constitutional mandate, if the legislative body  concerned  does

not carry out the required structural changes in  the  statutes,

then, it is the duty of the court to provide  the  statute  with

the meaning as per the Constitution. “The  job  of  the  Supreme

Court is not to expound the meaning of the constitution  but  to

provide it with meaning”[Walter Berns,  ‘Government  by  lawyers

and  judges’,  Commentary,  June,1987,   18.]    The   reference

obviously is to United States Supreme Court. As a  general  rule

of interpretation, no doubt, nothing is to be added to or  taken

from a statute. However, when  there  are  adequate  grounds  to

justify an inference, it is the bounden duty of the court to  do

so.

“…It  is  a  corollary  to  the  general  rule  of  literal

construction that nothing is to be added to or taken from a

statue unless there are adequate  grounds  to  justify  the

inference that the legislature intended something which  it

omitted  to  express”[Maxwell  on  The  Interpretation   of

Statues (12th Edn.) 33.].

According to Lord Mersey  in  Thompson  (Pauper)  v.  Goold  and

Co.[[1910] A.C. 409. (HL]: (AC p.420)

“…It is a strong thing to read into an Act or  Parliament

words, which are not there, and in  the  absence  of  clear

necessity, it is wrong to do”.

In the case of cooperative societies, after the  Ninety  Seventh

Amendment, it has become a clear or strong necessity to  do  the

strong thing of reading into the legislation, the constitutional

mandate  of  the  cooperative  societies  to  be   governed   as

democratic institutions.

45…The constitutional provisions  have  to  be  construed

broadly  and  liberally  having  regard  to   the   changed

circumstances  and  the  needs  of  time  and   polity”[The

Constitutional Bench decision in State of W.B.  v.Committee

for Protection of Democratic  Rights,  (2010)  3  SCC  571,

p.591, para  45: (2010) 2 SCC (Cri) 401]

* * *

46.        In the background of the constitutional mandate,  the

question is not what the statute does say but what  the  statute

must say. If the Act or the Rules or the  Bye-laws  do  not  say

what they should say in terms of the  Constitution,  it  is  the

duty of the court to read the constitutional spirit and  concept

into the Acts. … “In so far as in its Act  Parliament  does  not

convey its intention clearly, expressly and  completely,  it  is

taken to require the enforcement agencies who are  charged  with

the duty of applying legislation to spell out the detail of  its

legal meaning. This may be  done  either-  (a)  by  finding  and

declaring implications in the words used by the  legislator,  or

(b) by regarding the breadth or other obscurity of  the  express

language  as  conferring  a  delegated  legislative   power   to

elaborate  its  meaning  in  accordance   with   public   policy

(including   legal   policy)   and   the    purpose    of    the

legislation”[Bennion  on  Statutory  Interpretation  by  Francis

Bennion, (6th Edn.)136].”

10.         In reply, Shri  Mukul  Rohatgi,  learned  Attorney  General  has

submitted that in the present case the Congress Party had claimed  the  post

of LOP in the present Lok Sabha. However, the said  claim  was  rejected  by

the Hon’ble Speaker on the ground that as per  parameters  of  parliamentary

convention and practice, the Congress Party does not have the requisite  10%

strength of the total membership of the House of the People i.e.  Lok  Sabha

to be entitled to have its leader in the Lok Sabha to be recognized  as  the

Leader of the Opposition.  Shri Rohatgi in this regard  has  relied  upon  a

publication of the Lok Sabha Secretariat which is to the following effect:

“At present, there is no recognized Leader of Opposition in

Lok Sabha.”

11.         Shri Rohatgi has submitted that the provisions of the  1977  Act

cannot, by itself, constitute to be a part of the Act in  question.   It  is

submitted  that  the  implementation  of  the  provisions  of  the  Act  was

attempted  but  certain  difficulties  arising  from  some  inadequate   and

inconsistent provisions thereof came to  the  fore  which  necessitated  the

Amendment Bill. Referring to the Bill,  the  learned  Attorney  General  has

submitted that the Bill seeks to comprehensively amend different  provisions

of the Act to facilitate the smooth working of the institution brought  into

force under the Act.

12.   It will be necessary at  this  stage  to  take  note  of  the  salient

features of the Amendment Bill along with a very brief  description  of  the

other amendments of the different provisions of the Act which  is  presently

pending legislative  consideration.  The  principal  amendments  which  will

require a specific notice are those contained in Section 2 of the  Amendment

Bill seeking to amend Section 4 [clause (c) and clause  (e)  of  sub-section

(1);  sub-section (2) and sub-section (3)] of the Act in the  manner  stated

below:

“2.         In  the  Lokpal  and   Lokayuktas   Act,   2013

(hereinafter referred to as the principal Act)  in  section

4,-

(a)   in sub-section(1),-

(i)  for  clause  (c),  the  following  clause   shall   be

substituted, namely:-

‘(c) the Leader of Opposition recognised as  such  in

the House of the People or where there is no such Leader of

Opposition,  then,  the  Leader  of  the   single   largest

Opposition Party in that House – Member.’;

(ii)  after clause (e),  the  following  proviso  shall  be

inserted, namely:-

‘Provided that the eminent jurist shall be  nominated

for a period of three years and shall not be  eligible  for

re-nomination.’;

(b)        for sub-section (2), the  following  sub-section

shall be substituted, namely:-

‘(2)       No  appointment  of  a  Chairperson  or  a

Member or the nomination of  an  eminent  jurist  shall  be

invalid merely by reason of any vacancy  or  absence  of  a

Member in the Selection Committee.’;

(c)        in sub-section (3), after  the  second  proviso,

the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-

‘Provided also that no appointment of  a  person

in the Search Committee or the proceedings  of  the  Search

Committee shall be invalid merely by reason of any  vacancy

or absence of  a  Member  in  the  Selection  Committee  or

absence of a person in the Search Committee,  as  the  case

may be.’

13.         The Amendment Bill was referred to  the  Parliamentary  Standing

Committee on 25th December, 2014 after it was introduced in  the  Lok  Sabha

on 18th December, 2014.  Thereafter, on 3rd December, 2015,  the  report  of

the Parliamentary Standing Committee was submitted.  The  following  extract

from the report would indicate the relevant Sections  in  respect  of  which

amendments have been proposed and the extent thereof.

|S.No.|Area of    |Provision in|Relevant |Provisions  |Releva|Extent of     |

|     |concern    |the Lokpal  |Section  |in the Bill |nt    |Amendment     |

|     |           |and         |         |            |Clause|proposed      |

|     |           |Lokayuktas  |         |            |      |              |

|     |           |Act, 2013 & |         |            |      |              |

|     |           |Delhi       |         |            |      |              |

|     |           |Special     |         |            |      |              |

|     |           |Police      |         |            |      |              |

|     |           |Establishmen|         |            |      |              |

|     |           |t Act, 1946 |         |            |      |              |

|1.   |Composition|Prime       |4(1) of  |Prime       |2(a)(i|Inclusion of  |

|     |of         |Minister,   |Lokpal   |Minister,   |)     |Leader of     |

|     |Selection  |Chief       |and      |Chief       |      |largest       |

|     |Committee  |Justice of  |Lokayukta|Justice of  |      |Opposition    |

|     |           |India or    |s Act,   |India or    |      |Party in Lok  |

|     |           |Judge of    |2013     |Judge of    |      |Sabha in lieu |

|     |           |Supreme     |         |Supreme     |      |of Leader of  |

|     |           |Court,      |         |Court,      |      |Opposition in |

|     |           |Speaker, Lok|         |Speaker, Lok|      |Lok Sabha in  |

|     |           |Sabha,      |         |Sabha,      |      |Selection     |

|     |           |Leader of   |         |Leader of   |      |Committee.    |

|     |           |Opposition, |         |largest     |      |              |

|     |           |Lok Sabha   |         |Opposition  |      |              |

|     |           |and eminent |         |Party, Lok  |      |              |

|     |           |jurist      |         |Sabha and   |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |eminent     |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |jurist      |      |              |

|2.   |Tenure of  |No mention  |4(1)(e)  |Fixed tenure|2(b)  |Limiting      |

|     |eminent    |of tenure   |of Lokpal|of three    |-     |tenure of     |

|     |jurist in  |            |and      |years with  |      |eminent jurist|

|     |Selection  |            |Lokayukta|no          |      |to single term|

|     |Committee  |            |s Act,   |renomination|      |in the        |

|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |Selection     |

|     |           |            |         |            |      |Committee     |

|3.   |Proceedings|Proceedings |4(2) of  |No          |2(b)  |To validate   |

|     |of Search  |not to be   |Lokpal   |invalidation|&     |the           |

|     |and        |invalidated |and      |of          |2(c)  |proceedings of|

|     |Selection  |due to      |Lokayukta|proceedings |      |Search and    |

|     |Committee  |vacancy in  |s Act,   |of Search   |      |Selection     |

|     |           |the         |2013     |and         |      |Committee in  |

|     |           |Selection   |         |Selection   |      |the event of  |

|     |           |Search      |         |Committee   |      |absence or    |

|     |           |Committee   |         |due to      |      |vacancy of any|

|     |           |            |         |vacancy or  |      |member arising|

|     |           |            |         |absence     |      |therein in    |

|     |           |            |         |therein.    |      |future.       |

|4.   |Rank of    |Secretary to|10(1) of |Additional  |3(a)  |Rank reduced. |

|     |Secretary  |Government  |Lokpal   |Secretary to|      |              |

|     |to Lokpal  |of India    |and      |Government  |      |              |

|     |           |            |Lokayukta|of India    |      |              |

|     |           |            |s Act,   |            |      |              |

|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |              |

|5.   |Rank of    |Additional  |10(1) of |Joint       |3(b)  |Rank reduced  |

|     |Director of|Secretary to|Lokpal   |Secretary to|      |by one level  |

|     |Inquiry and|Government  |and      |Government  |      |              |

|     |Director of|of India    |Lokayukta|of India    |      |              |

|     |Prosecution|            |s Act,   |            |      |              |

|     |of Lokpal  |            |2013     |            |      |              |

|6.   |Disclosure |All Public  |44(1) &  |Public      |6(a)  |Immovable     |

|     |of assets  |servants to |44(2) of |servants to |      |assets        |

|     |and        |declare     |Lokpal   |declare the |      |acquired by   |

|     |liabilities|assets  and |and      |(i)         |      |the public    |

|     |by public  |liabilities |Lokayukta|immovable   |      |servant       |

|     |servants   |of self,    |s Act,   |assets      |      |whether in    |

|     |           |spouse and  |2013     |owned/      |      |his/her name  |

|     |           |dependent   |         |acquired/   |      |or in the name|

|     |           |children in |         |inherited by|      |of any family |

|     |           |the manner  |         |the public  |      |member or any |

|     |           |provided    |         |servant in  |      |other person  |

|     |           |under the   |         |his/her     |      |to be         |

|     |           |Act within  |         |name, in the|      |declared.     |

|     |           |30 days of  |         |name of any |      |Movable assets|

|     |           |the Act     |         |member of   |      |of only public|

|     |           |coming into |         |his/her     |      |servant to be |

|     |           |force to    |         |family or in|      |declared.     |

|     |           |their       |         |the name of |      |              |

|     |           |Competent   |         |any other   |      |              |

|     |           |Authority   |         |person; (ii)|      |              |

|     |           |and to file |         |movable     |      |              |

|     |           |Annual      |         |property    |      |              |

|     |           |Return of   |         |owned/      |      |              |

|     |           |movable and |         |acquired/   |      |              |

|     |           |immovable   |         |inherited by|      |              |

|     |           |assets and  |         |him/her and;|      |              |

|     |           |liabilities |         |(iii) Debts |      |              |

|     |           |of self,    |         |and other   |      |              |

|     |           |spouse and  |         |liabilities |      |              |

|     |           |dependent   |         |incurred by |      |              |

|     |           |children as |         |him/her     |      |              |

|     |           |on 31st     |         |directly or |      |              |

|     |           |March by    |         |indirectly. |      |              |

|     |           |31st July of|         |Such        |      |              |

|     |           |that year to|         |declaration |      |              |

|     |           |the         |         |to be made  |      |              |

|     |           |Competent   |         |to Competent|      |              |

|     |           |Authority   |         |Authority   |      |              |

|     |           |which is to |         |under Act/  |      |              |

|     |           |be put in   |         |Rules/      |      |              |

|     |           |public      |         |Regulations |      |              |

|     |           |domain by   |         |governing   |      |              |

|     |           |31st August |         |their       |      |              |

|     |           |of that     |         |appointment/|      |              |

|     |           |year.       |         |election.   |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |The         |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |Competent   |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |Authority to|      |              |

|     |           |            |         |publish the |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |declaration |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |filed by    |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |public      |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |servant in  |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |prescribed  |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |manner by   |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |31st August |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |of that     |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |year.       |      |              |

|7.   |Seat of    |New Delhi   |16(f) of |NCR of Delhi|4     |To facilitate |

|     |Lokpal     |            |Lokpal   |            |      |setting up of |

|     |           |            |and      |            |      |Headquarters  |

|     |           |            |Lokayukta|            |      |in the NCR of |

|     |           |            |s Act,   |            |      |Delhi.        |

|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |              |

|8.   |Eligibility|Rank of     |4BA OF   |Indian Legal|9(a)  |Makes the     |

|     |Criteria of|Director of |DSPE Act,|Service     |      |eligibility   |

|     |Director of|Prosecution |1946     |Officer     |      |criteria more |

|     |Prosecution|is Joint    |         |eligible to |      |stringent.    |

|     |(DoP) of   |Secretary to|         |be appointed|      |Allows only   |

|     |CBI        |Government  |         |as Special  |      |officers with |

|     |           |of India    |         |Public      |      |legal         |

|     |           |            |         |Prosecutor. |      |background to |

|     |           |            |         |In absence  |      |head the      |

|     |           |            |         |of such     |      |prosecution   |

|     |           |            |         |officer, an |      |wing of the   |

|     |           |            |         |advocate    |      |Central Bureau|

|     |           |            |         |having at   |      |of            |

|     |           |            |         |least 15    |      |Investigation |

|     |           |            |         |years of    |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |practice,   |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |and         |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |experience  |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |in handling |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |Government  |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |cases       |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |relating to |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |offences    |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |related to  |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |economic    |      |              |

|     |           |            |         |offences and|      |              |

|     |           |            |         |corruption. |      |              |

|9.   |Difference |No provision| 4BA of  |To be       |9(b)  |New provision.|

|     |of opinion |            |DSPE Act,|settled by  |      |              |

|     |between    |            |1946     |Attorney    |      |              |

|     |Director,  |            |         |General for |      |              |

|     |and        |            |         |India whose |      |              |

|     |Director of|            |         |decision    |      |              |

|     |prosecution|            |         |would be    |      |              |

|     |of CBI     |            |         |binding     |      |              |

14.         From the above, it  is  clear  that  Amendment  Bill  seeks  the

inclusion of Leader of the largest Opposition Party  in  Lok  Sabha  in  the

Selection Committee, in lieu of LOP. The proposed amendments  also  seek  to

limit the tenure of the  eminent  jurist,  as  a  Member  of  the  Selection

Committee. There is also an explicit recital of the fact  that  the  absence

of any Member of the Selection Committee (or a vacancy in the  post  of  any

Member) will not invalidate the recommendations of the  Selection  Committee

for  appointment  of  the  Chairperson  or  Member  of  the  Lokpal  or  the

appointment of the eminent jurist.  Similarly, appointment of  a  Member  of

the Search Committee or the proceedings of the said Committee  will  not  be

invalid by reason of either the absence of a Member of the Search  Committee

or a vacancy in the Selection Committee. The other  provisions  of  the  Act

relate to certain incidental matters under the Act, like, rank of  Secretary

to the Lokpal; rank of Director of Inquiry and Director  of  Prosecution  of

Lokpal; disclosure of assets and liabilities by  public  servants;  seat  of

Lokpal; eligibility criteria for appointment  of  Director  of  Prosecution;

and the provisions  relating  to  resolution  of  difference(s)  of  opinion

between the Director and the Director of Prosecution of CBI.

15.         While the Parliamentary  Standing  Committee  had  made  various

recommendations in respect  of  the  proposed  amendments,  so  far  as  the

amendment relating to substitution of the LOP by the Leader  of  the  single

largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha is  concerned,  the  Parliamentary

Standing Committee had approved the  proposed  amendment.   Insofar  as  the

discharge of functions by the  Search/Selection  Committee  in  a  situation

where there exits a vacancy, the Parliamentary Standing Committee is of  the

view that the  Search/Selection  Committee  should  not  take  any  decision

unless the vacancy in the Search/Selection Committee is filled up.   Rather,

it is suggested that provisions should be made in  the  Amendment  Bill  for

filling up  such  vacancy/vacancies  at  the  earliest.   The  rest  of  the

recommendations of the Committee would not be very material  to  decide  the

question arising in view of the very nature of the  subjects  to  which  the

same relate, which would be evident from a cursory glance  of  the  subjects

delineated  above  in  the  Chart  extracted  from   the   report   of   the

Parliamentary Standing Committee.

16.         As noticed, the report of the Parliamentary  Standing  Committee

is dated 3rd December, 2015. In the hearing of the cases that took place  on

28th March, 2017, Shri Mukul Rohatgi, learned  Attorney  General  for  India

has submitted that at present  the  report  of  the  Parliamentary  Standing

Committee is under scrutiny of the Government and it is  possible  that  the

same may be taken up for consideration by Parliament in the Monsoon  Session

of the current year.  Relying on several pronouncements of this Court,  Shri

Rohatgi has submitted that there can be no direction to the  Legislature  to

frame any law or to amend the existing law  or  to  complete  a  legislative

exercise within any time frame.  As there can be no serious dispute  on  the

above proposition(s) of law it will not be necessary to  burden  this  order

with a detailed reference to  the  judgments  relied  on  except  to  refer,

illustratively,  to the judgment of this Court in Common Cause vs. Union  of

India & Ors.[2].

17.         There can be no manner of doubt that  the  Parliamentary  wisdom

of seeking changes in an existing law by means of an amendment  lies  within

the exclusive domain of the legislature and it is not the  province  of  the

Court to express any opinion on the exercise of the legislative  prerogative

in this regard. The framing of the Amendment Bill; reference of the same  to

the Parliamentary Standing Committee; the consideration thereof by the  said

Committee; the report prepared alongwith further steps that are required  to

be taken and the time frame  thereof  are  essential  legislative  functions

which should not be ordinarily subjected to interference or intervention  of

the Court.  The constitutional doctrine of  separation  of  powers  and  the

demarcation  of  the  respective  jurisdiction   of   the   Executive,   the

Legislature and the Judiciary under the constitutional framework would  lead

the Court to the conclusion that the exercise of the amendment of  the  Act,

which is presently underway, must be allowed to  be  completed  without  any

intervention of the Court.  Any other view and  any  interference,  at  this

juncture,  would  negate  the  basic  constitutional  principle   that   the

Legislature is supreme in the sphere of law making.  Reading down a  statute

to make it workable in a situation where an exercise  of  amendment  of  the

law is pending will not be justified either. A perception,  however,  strong

of the imminent need of the law en-grafted in the  Act  and  its  beneficial

effects on the citizenry of  a  democratic  country,  by  itself,  will  not

permit the Court to overstep its  jurisdiction.   Judicial  discipline  must

caution the Court against such an approach.

18.         But that is not all; there is  a  further  question  that  would

require an answer. The question is whether the Act, as it exists,  sans  the

amendment  proposed,  is  so  unworkable  that  the  Court   should   refuse

enforcement thereof notwithstanding that the Act  has  come  into  force  by

Notification dated 16th January, 2014 issued under Section 1(4) of the  Act.

If the Act, as it exists, is otherwise workable and  the  amendment  sought

to be introduced by the Legislature is aimed at a more efficient working  of

some of the provisions of the Act, the wholesome principle that a  law  duly

enacted and enforced must be given  effect  to  will  have  to  prevail  and

appropriate directions will have to be issued  by  the  Court  to  the  said

effect.  Herein, we are reminded of the observations of this Court in  Utkal

Contractors and Joinery Pvt.  Ltd.  and  Others  vs.  State  of  Orissa  and

Others[3] which we find appropriate to quote hereinbelow.

“Just  as  Parliament  is  not  expected  to   use   unnecessary

expressions, Parliament is also not expected to  express  itself

unnecessarily. Even as Parliament does not use any word  without

meaning  something,  Parliament  does  not  legislate  where  no

legislation is called for.   Parliament  cannot  be  assumed  to

legislate for the sake of legislation; nor can it be assumed  to

make pointless  legislation.  Parliament  does  not  indulge  in

legislation merely to state what it is unnecessary to  state  or

to do what is  already  validly  done.  Parliament  may  not  be

assumed to legislate unnecessarily. Again, while the words of an

enactment are important, the context is no less important.”

19.         To answer the question posed above, the provisions of  the  Act,

as it  exists,  may  now  be  noted.   Under  Section  4  of  the  Act,  the

Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal are required to be  appointed  by  the

President on the recommendations of a  Selection  Committee  consisting  of-

(a)   the Prime Minister – Chairperson;

(b) the Speaker of the House of the People – Member;

(c)   the Leader of Opposition in the  House  of  the  People  –

Member;

(d)   the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court

nominated by him – Member;

(e) one eminent jurist, as recommended by  the  Chairperson  and

members referred to in clauses (a)  to  (d)  above,  to  be

nominated by the President – Member.

Sub-section (2) of Section 4 makes it clear that  the  appointment  of

Chairperson or a Member  of  the  Lokpal  will  not  become  invalid  merely

because of the reason of any vacancy in the  Selection  Committee.   If,  at

present, the LOP is not available, surely, the  Chairperson  and  the  other

two Members of the Selection Committee,  namely,  the  Speaker  of  the  Lok

Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee may proceed  to  appoint

an eminent jurist as a Member  of  the  Selection  Committee  under  Section

4(1)(e) of the Act.  We also do not see any legal disability in a  truncated

Selection Committee to constitute a Search  Committee for preparing a  panel

of persons for consideration for appointment as the Chairperson and  Members

of the Lokpal and also for such a  truncated  Selection  Committee  to  make

recommendations  to  the  President  of  India  for   appointment   of   the

Chairperson  and  Members  of  the  Lokpal.   True,  there  is  no  specific

provision akin to sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the  Act  insofar  as  the

constitution of the Search Committee by a truncated Selection  Committee  is

concerned. But the  absence  of  such  a  provision,  by  itself,  will  not

invalidate the  constitution  of  the  Search  Committee  by  the  truncated

Selection  Committee  when  the  Act  specifically  “empowers”  a  truncated

Selection  Committee  to  make  recommendations  for  appointment   of   the

Chairperson or Members of the Lokpal.   To  hold  otherwise  would  be  self

contradictory.    The  amendment  to  Section  4(3),  as  proposed,   would,

therefore, be clarificatory and will not amount to  an  attempt  to  cure  a

shortcoming in the Act which is proving to be an inhibition in  law  to  the

appointment of the Chairperson/ Members of the  Lokpal.   The  view  of  the

Parliamentary Standing Committee  with  regard  to  the  expediency  of  the

Search/Selection   Committee   taking   decisions   when   vacancy/vacancies

exists/exist is merely an opinion with which the  Executive,  in  the  first

instance,   has  to  consider  and,  thereafter,   the  legislature  has  to

approve.  The said opinion of the  Parliamentary  Standing  Committee  would

therefore not be sacrosanct. The same,  in  any  case,  does  not  have  any

material bearing on the validity of the existing provisions of the Act.

20.         A consideration of the other provisions of the  Act  in  respect

of which amendments have been proposed, as indicated in the Chart  extracted

above, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee in this  regard

which are available in its report, in our considered view, are  attempts  at

streamlining the  working  of  the  Act  and  in  no  way  constitute  legal

hindrances or bars to the enforcement of the provisions of  the  Act  as  it

stands today.  In this regard, all that the Court  would  like  to  say  and

observe is that such attempts at achieving better results in the working  of

any statute is a perpetual and ongoing exercise dictated by the  experiences

gained on the working of the act. Such attempts cannot  halt  the  operation

and execution of the law which the  Executive  in  its  wisdom  has  already

given effect to and has brought into force by resorting  to  the  provisions

of Section 1(4) of the Act.

21.   At this stage it may not be  out  of  context  to  notice  the  stated

objects  and  reasons  for  the  Legislation  which  highlights  its  unique

character and importance in the contemporary world.

“The need to have a legislation for Lokpal has been felt for the

quite some time. In its  interim  report  on  the  ‘Problems  of

Redressal of  Citizen’s  Grievances’,  submitted  in  1966,  the

Administrative Reforms Commission, inter alia,  recommended  the

setting up of an institution of Lokpal at the  Centre.  To  give

effect to this  recommendation  of  the  Administrative  Reforms

Commission, eight Bills on Lokpal were introduced  in  the  Loka

Sabha in the past. However, these Bills  had  lapsed  consequent

upon the dissolution of the respective Loka Sabha; except in the

case of 1985 bill, which was subsequently  withdrawn  after  its

introduction.

India is committed to  pursue  the  policy  of  ‘Zero  Tolerance

against  Corruption’.  India   ratified   the   United   Nations

Convention  against  Corruption  by  deposit  of  Instrument  of

Ratification on the 9th of May, 2011. This Convention imposes  a

number of obligations, some mandatory, some  recommendatory  and

some optional on the Member States. The Convention, inter  alia,

envisages that State Parties ensure measures in the domestic law

for criminalization of offences relating to bribery and  put  in

place  an  effective  mechanism   for   its   enforcement.   The

obligations of the Convention, with  reference  to  India,  have

come into force with effect from the  8thof  June,  2011.  As  a

policy of Zero tolerance against Corruption, the Bill  seeks  to

establish in the country, a more effective mechanism to  receive

complaints relating to allegations of corruption against  public

servants, including, Ministers,  Members  of  Parliament,  Chief

Ministers, Members of Legislative  Assemblies,  public  servants

and to inquire into them and take follow up actions. The bodies,

namely, Lokpal and Lokayuktas which are being  set  up  for  the

purpose will be constitutional bodies. This setting up of  these

bodies  will  further  strengthen   the   existing   legal   and

institutional mechanism thereby facilitating  a  more  effective

implementation of some of the obligations  under  the  aforesaid

Convention.”

22.   We, therefore, conclude by quoting Justice Krishna Iyer In  Reference,

the Special Courts Bill, 1978[4] and holding  that  the  Act  as  it  stands

today is an  eminently  workable  piece  of  legislation  and  there  is  no

justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension  till  the

amendments, as proposed, are carried out.

“The pathology of our public law, with its class slant, is  that

           an unmincing ombudsman or sentinel on the qui vive with power to

           act against those in power, now or before,  and  offering  legal

           access to the informed citizen to complain  with  immunity  does

           not  exist;  despite  all  the  bruited  umbrage  of   political

           performers  against  peculations  and  perversions   by   higher

           echelons. Law is what law does, not what law says; and the moral

           gap between word and deed menaces people’s  faith  in  life  and

           law. The tragedy, then, is that democracy becomes a casualty.”

23.          For  the  aforesaid  reasons,  the  writ  petitions   and   the

transferred cases shall stand allowed as indicated above.

………………..,J.

(RANJAN GOGOI)

………………..,J.

(NAVIN SINHA)

NEW DELHI

APRIL 27, 2017

———————–

[1]  (2015) 8 SCC 1

[2]  (2003) 8 SCC 250

[3]  AIR 1987 SC 1454 : (1987) 3 SCC 279

[4] AIR 1979 SC 478 : (1979) 1 SCC 380

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.